Rocking around....the Operation Christmas Child Processing Centre

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Today we took a fabulous trip.

For many years now, we've packed shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritans Purse.  This year was no different.

What was different however, was that a few days before collection week, my husband suffered a pulmonary embolism.  This pretty much threw the house into turmoil for over a week.  There was no way I could get our boxes over to the usual drop-off site.  Once things settled down, I started nosing about for a way to get our boxes delivered to the right place.  I recalled talking to a woman at a Christmas party a few years ago about how she volunteered for OCC at their processing centre in Cambridge.  A few calls and I discovered that we could indeed take our boxes there ourselves, and also have a tour around the facility.  I jumped at the chance!

Our tour started down a hallway with a wall of donors to the cause.  All these businesses donate various things needed to run the processing centre--items for incomplete boxes to coffee for the volunteers.

In a training room, large posters detailed what items were not allowed in boxes.  We were disappointed to find out that chapstick, something we usually put in our boxes is not allowed.  Our lovely guide Becky explained that it's too much like make-up and many countries consider that inappropriate for young girls--and it can also get them kidnapped for trafficking purposes. :-(

These articles taped up in the training room are stories of happy children receiving their boxes, and also an amazing story about a woman from Romania who received a box as a child.  She moved to Canada as an adult and now helps OCC to continue to spread the blessings she received.  

More pictures posted on a hallway wall of thrilled children opening their boxes.

I loved this picture...and the caption.

The Donation section.  These boxes organize all the 'inappropriate' items and ready them to be sent to local charities that need such items.  I love that nothing is wasted!

This is a shipment ready to be sent to Haiti.  Each box you can see holds (I believe) 25 shoeboxes.

The odd-sized packing section.  For non-standard sized shoeboxes.

Another shot of the Haiti shipment.

The processing line.  These are the stations the volunteers man to check each box and make sure it's ready to ship.

The shoebox hospital....

...complete with ambulance.  When a box has been overstuffed, has broken open, or needs extra items to fill it completely, it gets sent to the shoebox hospital where volunteers nurse it back to health. :-)

"Cured" boxes, heading back to the processing lines.

The volunteers came back from their break and we got to see them all get back into action.

The craft idea table, for groups and individuals who like to spend time during the year making items to go in boxes.

The cafeteria, where the volunteers have their lunch and snacks.

A map showing where Canada's boxes are going.

The tally board.  Amazing!!

Information about another ministry arm of Samaritans Purse--water purification units for communities without potable water.

The OCC "Store", selling gently used items, and some OCC momentos ( t-shirts, ornaments--we brought one home for our tree to remember the day) to raise funds to buy items to fill sick or underfilled boxes.

Our wonderful tour guide Becky!  She did a great job!

It was just such an invigorating and thrilling trip.  I was really emotionally moved to see those huge stacks of boxes and hear some of the stories.  I was discouraged this year to happen upon some articles and blogs criticizing OCC, and while it didn't cause my faith in this organization to waver, I did wonder about some of the points of contention I'd read about.  I asked Becky about a few of the things I'd read: things like the problem of items going to children that couldn't use them--like winter hats to hot countries.  She pointed out that even in hot countries, such items are still needed as their cooler seasons are to them, as our icy winters are to us!  Or at night time in many of these countries, it still gets rather cold.

Most of all, I came away from our tour today more convinced than ever that God is using Operation Christmas Child.  He's using them to bless children, and most importantly, lead many of them to Christ.  One criticism I read was that OCC puts religious literature in the boxes, and parents of these children don't realize that they're sending their kid off to get a box and religious instruction will be a part of it.  Becky assured me that OCC is granted permission to put the tracts, storybooks and other literature into the boxes.  It's not foisted upon unsuspecting families.  To be honest, this criticism did not bother me much; I'm afraid I see the issue of reaching children with the gospel as more important than a parent who may object.  We're talking about their everlasting souls.  I would face an irate parent over this issue any day rather than face the Lord someday and admit that I wimped out of sharing the gospel with a child in this way.

One final story that Becky told that really did me in....she talked of a town where a set of twins were waiting to receive their boxes.  I think the strict rule is that a child has to be there in person to receive their box.  The day of the distribution, one twin was sick and could not go get her box.  Her sister went without her and returned home with a single box.  When they opened it up....they found that there were two of everything in that box that had only been meant for one child.  I was SO moved and amazed....God is present, even in these little details, there is no doubt.

I will never forget our trip to the Operation Christmas Child processing centre, and hopefully my kids won't either!  Packing a box will never feel the same!


secondofwett said...

What a great experience! Next year I'm going to try and do the boxes again with our kids. I think it will be good for them.

Post a Comment